For the past couple of weekends, I’ve found myself alternating a bit between Lille and Brussels.
For those not quite familiar, Lille is the capital of the Hauts de France (previously Nord Pas de Calais) region. It’s basically that part of France that borders Belgium. It’s one hour away from Paris or Brussels by high speed train.
To be honest, until I went to Lille to study, I had no idea about this not so little French city. (It’s the 4th largest metropole in France according to wikipedia)
Can you spot Lille in the map below?
Lille is a big university city – so there’s always much life buzzing around and the population of the city is quite young. There’s a lot of hip restos and cafes (if you know where to look) and of course, shopping (still a lot of things you can get here that you can’t find in Belgium).
I could write so many things about Lille – a city I first didn’t like because I thought that everywhere in France was like Paris (yes I was young and innocent) – but that’s maybe for later.
For now, whenever I visit Lille (I live like 40 minutes away on the other side of the border now), I still feel at home! (but well Lille also feels very Belgian-y, considering it is a part of French Flanders)
So anyway, last weekend, I finally got around to trying one of the more luxe things I couldn’t really afford on a student budget – the spa at l’hermitage gantois.
The Spa at L’Hermitage Gantois
L’Hermitage Gantois is like one of those fancy places that everyone just kinda knows about. It used to be a hospice but was converted into a 5 star hotel sometime in the 2000s.
It’s located in the center of the city but in a relatively calmer area – near the city hall and a bit more business-y district.
While the outside of the hotel is completely old style – the inside is a mix of the old elements of the structure but modernized. I loved it. Seems like a great place for a reception… (??)
The place itself is a combination of multiple buildings so the inside seems like a maze.
Going to the spa, we passed by an old chapel, and a couple of interconnected buildings to finally get to the entrance of the spa.
The spa itself was not that big – but quite nice and well appointed.
You can come one hour before your scheduled treatment and make use of their pool and hammam. Upon arriving, we were each given a locker and was provided a robe, slippers and towels to use. I particularly loved the fact that they gave us a plastic bag for wet clothes after, as this is always a problem when you forget to bring one.
The facilities themselves are well maintained. As they don’t have a lot of treatment rooms, you barely have any other people using the facilities so you can feel like you have the place all to yourself (side note: hotel guests can use the pool but there was only 1 non spa guest at the time we were there). The pool and hammam were great. Just the right temperature for both and the perfect setup for a massage.
When the time came for our treatment, someone came to get us from the pool and escorted us to our room. We both had a simple massage with oil and it was amazingly relaxing. Out of all the massages I’ve had around here, this is the first time that I actually felt some force in the massage. (It will never be like in Asia but gotta say this is the best – so far)
At the end of the massage, we had a nice tea and meringue.
Overall, it was a good experience and I would do it again. Massages at L’Hermitage are not astronomically priced and can compete with other lower level massage places but with the added advantage of really great facilities. They also normally have some special offers which you can view on their site.
The best part of the place was how nice everyone was. I realize that it’s a spa, in a hotel so people are bound to be nice, but you’d be surprised how often this expectation is not met.
Bonus point is that they spoke English to me when I did to them (but was quickly dashed when V said it’s ok to speak French…)
Anyway, after the massage, we were in search of merienda aka goûter. We walked a bit more and found ourselves in Coffee Makers.
Coffee Makers is one of the more well known coffee shops in Lille for coffee lovers. They’re pretty much known for their excellent coffee and home made pastries. From what I understand, they also actually have their own source of coffee beans so they also have their own brand of beans being sold. Honestly, I know nothing about coffee so I’m there for the pastries – and their matcha latte.
That day they had a super amazing chocolate fondant – so sad that they only had one piece left because it definitely was not enough for the two of us.
And so ended yet another Sunday. Well to be true, we still went to Kinepolis to watch Green Book (in VO – Version Originale – thank god), but I don’t think I need to give a review of Kinepolis lol.
P.S. Green Book is actually a really great funny movie.
The Spa at L’Hermitage Gantois can be found at 224 Rue Pierre Mauroy, 59000 Lille, France.
Coffee Makers can be found at 151 Rue Pierre Mauroy, 59800 Lille, France